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PolyU SCIENCE Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition



The Three Minute Thesis competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy students of Faculty of Science. Developed by The University of Queensland, 3MT cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

PolyU SCIENCE 3MT Competition

3MT® is run as a tiered competition. FS Departments will make nominations to the faculty competition. Winners of FS will be nominated to GS to participate in the University-level competition.

FS is going to host its 3MT® at 10:00am on 5 June 2024 (Wednesday) in M1603, Senate Room.

Training Workshops (by ELC)

The 3MT briefing and training workshops organized by the English Language Centre (ELC) is provided to all research students. The briefing will be conducted in a hybrid mode, accommodating both in-person and online participants interested in the 3MT competition. The workshops will cover essential strategies that participants need to master for a successful 3MT presentation. Details are as follows:


  • Date: 13 May 2024 (Mon)
  • Time:11:30 am
  • Venue: AG311 and Online (Hybrid mode)
  • Instructor: Dr Eric HO, English Language Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Registration: Physical | Online


Workshop 1

  • Date and Time: (1st Round) 13 May 2024 (Mon), 2:30 pm (Registration)
  •       (2nd Round) 14 May 2024 (Tue), 11:30 am (Registration)

  • Venue: AG311
  • Instructor: Dr Andy FUNG, English Language Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Workshop 2

  • Date and Time: (1st Round) 14 May 2024 (Tue), 2:30 pm (Registration)
  •           (2nd Round) 16 May 2024 (Thu), 11:30 am (Registration)

  • Venue: AG311
  • Instructor: Dr Issa YING, English Language Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Workshop 3

  • Date and Time: (1st Round) 16 May 2024 (Thu), 2:30 pm (Registration)
  •       (2nd Round) 17 May 2024 (Fri), 2:30 pm (Registration)

  • Venue: AG311
  • Instructor: Dr Andy FUNG, English Language Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Training Workshops (by GS)

Training Workshop for 3MT Competition is organized by Graduate School. This workshop will equip students with techniques and strategies to effectively present technical content to both general and technical audiences. Details are as follows:

  • Date: 30 April 2024 (Tue)
  • Time: 3:00 - 4:00 pm
  • Venue: CD301, PolyU
  • Instructor: Prof. Baochun LI, University of Toronto


  • Full-time/Part-time PhD students, who have passed their confirmation of registration and whose award has not been ratified by the Graduate School Board as of 5 June 2024, are eligible to participate.
  • Graduates are not eligible to participate.
  • All participants must be nominated by their affiliated departments. Each department is allowed to nominate up to 3 eligible PhD students.


  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement’) and is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Comprehension and content
  • Presentation provided clear motivation, background and significance to the research question.
  • Presentation clearly described the research strategy/design and the results/findings of the research.
  • Presentation clearly described the conclusions, outcomes and impact of the research.
Engagement and communication
  • The oration was delivered clearly, and the language was appropriate for a non-specialist audience.
  • The PowerPoint slide was well-defined and enhanced the presentation.
  • The presenter conveyed enthusiasm for their research and captured and maintained the audience’s attention.

Judging Panel

 Name  Post & Affiliation
 Prof. Yang CHAI  Associate Dean (Research) & Professor (AP)
 Dr Nung-sing SZE, Raymond  Associate Dean (Academic Support) & Associate Professor (AMA)
 Prof. WONG Man-kin
 Associate Dean (Industrial Partnership) & Professor (FSN)
 Prof. Terence LEE  Associate Head & Professor (ABCT)
 Dr CHUA Song-lin  Assistant Professor (ABCT)
 Prof. ZHAO Xingqiu  Associate Head & Professor (AMA)
 Prof. ZHANG Xuming
 Associate Head & Professor (AP)
 Dr Kathy LENG Kai  Assistant Professor (AP)
 Dr Kevin KWOK  Associate Head & Associate Professor (FSN)


Cash prizes and certificates will be awarded to the winners of the Competition. 

  • Winner: HK$3,000
  • 1st Runner-up: HK$2,000
  • 2nd Runner-up: HK$1,000
  • People’s Choice Award (by audience ballot): HK$1,000
*People’s Choice: An important aspect of the competition is the People’s Choice prize. Following all presentations, the audience is asked to vote on who they thought gave the most convincing 3MT presentation (based on their understanding of the criteria above). A finalist can be the winner or runner-up and still receive the People’s Choice award.

The Champion, first and second runners-up will be nominated for the PolyU 3MT®.


3MT® drafting

Write for your audience

  • Avoid jargon and academic language.
  • Explain concepts and people important to your research - you may know all about Professor Smith’s theories but your audience may not.
  • Highlight the outcomes of your research, and the desired outcome.
  • Imagine that you are explaining your research to a close friend or fellow student from another field.
  • Convey your excitement and enthusiasm for your subject.

Tell a story

  • You may like to present your 3MT® as a narrative, with a beginning, middle and end.
  • It’s not easy to condense your research into three minutes, so you may find it easier to break your presentation down into smaller sections.
  • Try writing an opener to catch the attention of the audience, then highlight your different points, and finally have a summary to restate the importance of your work.

Have a clear outcome in mind

  • Know what you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
  • Try to leave the audience with an understanding of what you’re doing, why it is important, and what you hope to achieve.


  • Proof your 3MT® presentation by reading it aloud, to yourself and to an audience of friends and family.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Ask your audience if your presentation clearly highlights what your research is about and why it is important.

3MT® slide


Before you start work on your slide, you should take the following rules into account:

  • One single static PowerPoint slide is permitted;
  • No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are permitted;
  • Your slide is to be presented from the beginning of your oration; and
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.


You may like to consider some of the following suggestions.

  • Less is more: text and complicated graphics can distract your audience – you don’t want them to read your slide instead of listening to your 3MT®.
  • Personal touches: personal touches can allow your audience to understand the impact of your research.
  • Creativity drives interest: do not rely on your slide to convey your message – it should simply complement your oration.
  • Work your message: think about how your slide might be able to assist with the format and delivery of your presentation – is there a metaphor that helps explain your research?
  • An engaging visual presentation can make or break any oration, so make sure your slide is legible, clear and concise.


3MT® presentation

Practice, practice, practice

  • Feeling nervous before you present is natural, and a little nervousness can even be beneficial to your overall speech. Nonetheless, it is important to practice so you can present with confidence and clarity. Practicing will also help you gauge the timing of your 3MT® so that you keep within the time limit.

Vocal range

  • Speak clearly and use variety in your voice (fast/slow, loud/soft).
  • Do not rush – find your rhythm.
  • Remember to pause at key points as it gives the audience time to think about what you are saying.

Body language

  • Stand straight and confidently.
  • Hold your head up and make eye contact.
  • Never turn your back to the audience.
  • Practise how you will use your hands and move around the stage. It is okay to move around energetically if that is your personality, however it is also appropriate for a 3MT® presentation to be delivered from a single spot on stage.
  • Do not make the common mistakes of rolling back and forth on your heels, pacing for no reason or playing with your hair as these habits are distracting for the audience.

Record yourself

  • Record and listen to your presentation to hear where you pause, speak too quickly or get it just right.
  • Then work on your weaknesses and exploit your strengths.

Look to the stars!

  • Watch your role models such as academics, politicians and journalists, and break down their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Analyse how they engage with their audience.
  • View presentations by previous 3MT finalists.


  • There is no dress code, if you are unsure of how to dress you may like to dress for a job interview or an important meeting. It is important that you feel comfortable so you can focus on your presentation.
  • If you are presenting on a stage that has a wooden floor, be aware of the noise your footwear might make.
  • Do not wear a costume of any kind as this is against the rules (as is the use of props).


For enquiries, please contact Faculty of Science by phone 2766 5057 or email


The Presentation Rules, Judging Criteria and Competitor Guide are based on those developed by the University of Queensland, Australia.

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